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The French Blatting Company
DAILY BLOG AT LA FOIE
Due to time pressures during June I didn't get time to update the blog. However here's a summary of events up to 7th July.
Our friends Jo and Ian along wih four year old Sam arrived on 14th June. New friends Richard and Helen along with their friends Tim and Mrs Tim arrived on the following day. The four men went to Le Mans on the Saturday and Sunday whilst the girls went out shopping, eating and boozing. Le Mans was very good and I'm sure if you follow it you'll know the outcome.
After Le Mans it was time to start the actual packing for the move. I had advertised the Land Rover and this was quickly snapped up by an English chap in Normandie. He paid for it unseen as he was going on holiday. In the meantime I had to get a French MOT (CT). I booked it in and it duly failed! No lights, cracks in the tyres, long brake pedal etc. I had to get to work on it to get it retested before the new owner came to collect. The lights were a broken switch, I changed the wheels for the spare set that came with the vehicle when I bought it. However the brakes were a time consuming problem, time I didn't have. Add to these problems the weather turned hot, very hot. Some days it was in the 30's and, unusual for us, it was very humid. It took me ages to get the problem fixed... some idiot had put the brake shoe return spring on the two shoes instead of on the leading shoe and a peg on the backplate. Now, I wonder who that idiot could be. At this point I had to leave it at that and ask the new owner to collect it and finish the minor points and get the CT. Fortunatley for me he agreed and I will pay his costs for this.
I then had to get all the workshop equipment out into the middle of the workshop and all the parts into boxes. This took a few days as I could only work from 0600 to about 1400 as it got too hot after that.
I kept chasing the BMW dealer to finish the Mini but little progress was made. In the event it was not ready, in fact, having looked at it as I took some stuff out on the 22nd I doubt it's been worked on at all. It's in the same position it was 6 weeks earlier and there's a mass of cobwebs between the dash and drivers seat. He has promised, for the umpteenth time to get it finished and let me know. We have had to return in the Honda, which I wanted to sell in France and I'll have to fly back to collect it when it's ready. If it is ever finished!
I had spent ages on the internet sorting out the new stuff we needed for the new house. Due to my fractured vertebrae we decided to leave to large Ikea wardrobes and buy new ones. I also needed a fridge, freezer, washing machine, all in black, a new dining room table and 6 chairs, a new sofa bed plus a mass of smaller bits. It all went smoothly except for Tesco Direct who didn't seem to understand I wanted delivery on 16th June, not next day. My daughter took a day off to be at the house for all the large stuff to be delivered on 16th June. A TV aerial man was booked to install a new dish with a quad LNB and run two cables into the lounge, and one each into Lynne's room and the kitchen. All went well with no hitches on the day. Even the shed company delivered on the correct day and the assembly team came a few days later.
I ordered two sim cards and a fibre broadband from Plusnet. The sim cards were delivered to my daughter at the end of May and she brought them over when they came for a weeks holiday at the end of May, first week in June. Plusnet reported that Open Reach wanted access to the house to fix a fault. Problem was that until the line was working they could not get the internet line ordered. Something made me think the fault wasn't in the house but the distribution cabinet. We had no choice but to wait until we were there when the Open Reach engineer would come and fix the fault on Friday 30th. I had suggested they check the cabinet in the meantime but they insisted the fault was in the house. This meant we had no internet until it was connected. Plusnet had downgraded the order to ADSL (from fibre) as an ADSL line takes three days and a fibre takes ten. They would upgrade to fibre the following week. I had got the phone number from the previous owner who had cancelled the line as he used his mobile. Plusnet assured me I would keep the number so I had business cards printed with the new address and phone numbers. When we changed the sim cards from the French to UK cards we found that we had a very, very weak signal and it was almost impossible to make a call and be heard. We were constantly ringing Plusnet to sort all this out and were almost getting used to the obligatory half hour wait for their support team to answer the phone.
The home phone was not the number I was promised so I'll need new business cards printed. The internet came on line at 1700 on Wednesday (5th) I started catching up and went to bed at midnight and got up at 0200 to continue. At 0800 the broadband, which was the fibre I wanted, dropped out. Half an hour wait for support and it was decided the new router was faulty and a new one would be sent out. Whilst I was waiting for support to answer I get an email from Plusnet informing me my prepaid home phone money is running low and I needed to get it topped up. Seeing as I had given them a DD mandate I couldn't see why they didn't just raise a £10 charge to top it up. With no internet access I had no choice but to wait the half hour to get the pre-payment topped up. First chap asks me the "security" questions and then says "you have given me incorrect data I cannot help you" I asked what was wrong but he said he was not allowed to say. I hung up in a temper, dialled again and after half hour went through the same procedure. Same result. They wouldn't put me through to a manager until I had answered the security questions correctly. I then had a thought so made a third call and after the half hour wait spoke to a young lady with a brain. I expained the situation and my address and asked if the address on their file was my daughters. It was! When I ordered the sim cards I asked them to use the new address but send the cards to my daughter. They just put my daughters address in and this was the question I was getting wrong. Pre-payment topped up I got on with my life.
I have now purchased two sim cards from Vodafone as a neighbour says they get a good signal with Vodafone. I then spend the half hour waiting for Plusnet to provide me with the PAC's so Vodafone can transfer the number. The chap I speak to says he can't do it right now but he will process them in half hour (they seem to like half hours) and will email them to me later. So far they have not arrived so I'm looking forward to another half hour wait.
All in all I have had a nigtmare experience with Plusnet and, let alone would not recommend them I would advise people not to use them under any circumstances.
A few days before we leave I go to the AXA office in town to cancel the insurance on the Honda and arrange cover in the UK. she cannot cancel cover until we send them proof of new insurance. I ring Direct Line and they are happy to insure the car but will not give road risk cover until the car is on UK plates. It's illegal for a UK resident to drive a car on non UK plates. However, I'm still a resident of France (La Foie isn't sold yet) so I'm not breaking the law. No, that's what the policy says and we can't change it. I try Admiral with the same result. I then search google for a UK insurer who will provide full cover. It comes up with Adrian Flux. Having had a bad experience with them some years ago I'm reluctant to use them but think I'll give it a try. I give the chap all the details and he asks if I know the original UK reg number. I ask him to hang on whilst I go to the workshop and dig out the original plates. He says that it's eight minutes to twelve so why doesn't he ring back at twelve. Of course he doesn't. At 1220 I ring again and give all the details. Having completed the form I'm asked to wait whilst he rings the underwriter and gets the premium. I hang on a few minutes and he comes back. "The premium will be one thousand and...." He didn't get any further, I couldn't believe the price so said thanks but no thanks. We are driving the car on French plates with French insurance until I can get the UK number. I have had an MOT and it failed on two minor issues which I will fix on Sunday 9th and get a retest on Monday.
I now have to fill in a DVLA form V55 which I ordered online. I sometimes wonder why we call it "common" sense when it's so rare. The form refers to the CoC codes not the V5c codes for the data. I would guess that over half the imports of cars are from other EU countries and all EU countries have common codes on ther V5c (Reg. doc) if they had printed them as well I could have copied the data from the French Carte Gris. I've had to send Honda an email asking for a copy. If they won't send out a copy I'll have to pay £50 for a CoC (Certificate of Conformity).
As you may know I suffer from sleep apoena and had a machine from a company called Aliseo in France. I informed them I was leaving the country on 28th June and they said they'd pick the machine up on 26th. Of course they didn't and I had to remind them. They arranged for me to leave it at the Marie (Mayor). I now wish I'd kept it because......
.... when we were in the UK in March and "bought" the house in Royston we went into the local doctors practice and asked to be registered and asked the receptionist if a sleep apnoea machine could be available for 28th June. "Oh yes, fill in the forms, leave them with me and I'll arrange for a machine to be here for you". Lynne went to the doctors on the Friday we arrived. The receptionist looked for us on the system and couldn't find us. Lynne explained about coming in in March and she was told that the receptionist had been sacked because she was binning any paperwork she didn't understand and they couldn't just supply a machine, I would need tests to determine which type of machine I would need. We completed the forms and made an appointment to see the doctor next day. He then gives me an appointment form which I have to use the code and password to make an appointment at the sleep lab. I go home, make the call and am told the appointment will be in four months time and I will get a date nearer the time.
I cannot go four months without a machine as I will get one or two hours sleep a night and after about a week will be suffering from extreme sleep depravation. This has the effect of being like a zombie and making horrendous mistakes apart from falling asleep when driving. I've rang the lab and explained the situation and the secretary is trying to get me an emergency appointment... in about 6 weeks. I have also spoken to my MP who is trying to get a much quicker appointment. I have suggested they take the French lab results, which I have and supply me with an automatic machine, as I had in France. We could then do the tests in four months time. My doctor has written to them and sent the lab results and we await a phone call.
A week or so before we leave I put the Caterham in the garage next to the gites. A few days before we go, a guest informs me that the o/s/f tyre is flat. I remove the wheel and at 0800 next morning take it to Norauto (the French equivelant of Halfords/Quick Fit) to get it repaired. Mind you I did think it may just be a very slow leak through the split rim and that's what it turned out to be. Another 2 hours wasted, time I could ill afford to lose.
I arranged for a local TV aerial man to fit a new quad LMB to the satellite dish and run two cables into the lounge and one each into kitchen and Lynne's room (Lynne's room is teh dining room. She watches Netflix and is on facebook all the time so we have seperate rooms). When we arrive at the house and the furniture turns up on the Monday I have one TV and one decode so I fit the TV to the kitchen wall and make a bracket to hold the decoder on the wall. When I go to fit the sattelite cable I find it's a terrestial earial. I check the others. The lounge has a twin satellite cable but Lynne's room has an aerial cable. I ring the chap and tell him. He says he found an aerial in the loft and my daughter said I would have Freeview on my TV's so it would be OK to use the aerial. I don't have Freeview on any of the TV's other than mine which will go in the lounge which has the twin satellite cables. I ring him and explain. "Oh dear" he says, "I can't get there until next Monday as I'm on holiday in Spain"
With regard the movement of cars and workshop I planned to get a car transport drive, the chap who bought the MG over, to take the MG and Caterham to Royston. Then Hire a 7.5 tonner and get Louis in the village to help me one afternoon to load and time the trip so I got to Royston on a weekend where the kids could help me unload and put it away. However a friend who has a single car transporter arranges to come over for Le Mans. So I think he can come over with his trailer and take the MG back then bring back a 7.5 tonner and help me load the workshop and tow the trailer back with the Caterham on it. He agrees so I attempt to hire a 7.5 tonner with a tow bar. No chance! To tow a trailer with a 7.5 tonner you need an operators licence so the hire companies will not fit tow balls. OK, no problem, I'll drive the Caterham back. Lynne in the Mini, me in the Caterham and Ian in the lorry. All goes well and Ian takes the MG and returns with the lorry. He backs up to the workshop door and goes in for a rest having driven the hour and forty minutes from St Malo. I start loading and Ian comes out and helps for about fifteen minutes and then says he doesn't feel well and goes to bed. Luckily one of our guests helps me, two seventy year old loading a lorry with heavy equipment, one with two fractured vertebrae. It's all on and next morning I have to go to Chateaubriant to return the internet router. I get there and wait for them to open. When they do I go to the service desk and sit down. The lady who's desk it is is walking in and out of their back room and says, gruffly, that I can't sit there but to sit in the other chair about two feet away. After ten minutes of walking in and out of the back room she tells me I should wait for one of the sales people. So I duly go back into the shop and stand by one of the desks as a customer hums and hars about which new router he should have. Eventually he takes one and it's my turn. I explain that I've cancelled the contract and am returning the router. He logs on to his computer and brings my details up on screen. He dials a number on his phone then hangs up and looks at the screen again. He dials another number and then turns the phone to me and says I must ring the number shown. At this point I decide that forty minutes to hand in something that I've arranged to do is enough. I tell him I've already done that and they said to bring the router in so here it is. He says OK, one minute, presses a few keys gets up and walks to the printer and returns with the receipt for the router. I make my way home. I load the four spare wheels for the Caterham and the telescope on the lorry. I go inside and Ian is in bed on his phone. I ask him if he can put the water hose on the lorry and that I'm going to set off so I can miss the rain that's expected. Off I go and get to Ouisterham in two and a half hours. I ring Lynne expecting them to be half way here only to find they haven't left yet. I have lunch, a beer and several coffees. They turn up just in time for dinner and we have a very nice meal, our last in France. Ian had parked the lorry in the car park next to where I was parked which is for lorries and camper vans. When we return he checks the back and see's the handle of the lock isn't fully closed. He opens the back and finds two stowaways hiding in the back. He forceably evicts them, secures the back and we get in our vehicle to drive the 300 metres to the port. I start the Caterham but the clutch is making a very loud grinding/screeching noise. I switch off, put it in gear and start it up and drive off trying not to come to a stop. We get on the boat OK and have a drink and retire. It's arranged that I'll set off as quickly as I can to try and beat the rain that's due whilst Lynne and Ian meet up and drive up to Royston together. We dock at 0715 and get off fairly quickly. It isn't raining, yet. I see Ian at the queue for passport control and set off. I get to Southampton on the M27 and the clutch disintergrates. I pull onto the hard shoulder and ring Lynnes phone, straight into voice mail. So I ring Jo who is in the lorry and they are on the motorway but didn't find Lynne. I ask them if they can go back and get her. She can't find her way out of a cardboard box let alone drive from Portsmouth to Royston. They return and collect her. In the meantime I ring my daughter and ask her to get a breakdown lorry to get the car off the motorway and into storage until Ian can come back for it. She has this organised in about five minutes and the flat bed arrives about fifteen minutes later. I arrange with the comapny to store the car until Tuesday and will let them know when Ian will collect later that day. We get the car on the back and Lynne and Ian turn up. Ian sorts out the pickup with the driver of the breakdown lorry and I get in the car with Lynne and we set off to our new home. We get there at 1230, the four hours it always takes. Ian arrives at 1500 and goes to bed as he feels ill again. I, Lynne and Jo unload the lorry. Ian takes the lorry back at 1830 and returns in his van.
We must now turn our attention to the removal company. In early May I searched Google for "moving from France to UK" and got a list of agencies who arrange the removal. I phoned about three or four and asked if they could pick up in France on 27th and deliver in Royston on 30th. The first three said they couldn't make that commitment the fourth said it wouldn't be a problem seeing how far ahead I was booking. All went well and they turned up on the right day and in the time window I'd been advised. By 2100 all our home was in the large, ex Pickfords, lorry. They left at 0100, the time being dictated by the drivers hours.
We, as described above, left next day and arrived on the Thursday. We waited for the lorry to arrive on Friday but it didn't. We tried phoning the agent but it wouldn't answer. On Monday at 1300 a small 7.5 tonner arrives with half our stuff in it. The goods had been taken out of the large lorry it had been put in at La Foie and some of it was now on the 7.5 tonner. There was lots of damage! They took one of the single beds up in pieces, I assumed they'd dismantled it to save space. A book case had the back off and we found a box with expensive crystle glasses, all double wrapped in bubble wrap had been dropped and the contents smashed into little pieces. One of the TV decoders had the front panel off which I replaced only to find later that it was dead, presumably also dropped. Some of the boxes were wet. I know think the other bed has been damaged but this bed was a bit loose before so I'll probably fit some right angle brackets on the insides of the four corners.
The two chaps who delivered the first load said they'd bring the rest on Thursday 6th July. They didn't! I looked through all the paperwork and found the name and address of the moving firm (not the agent) and rang them. The lady said it would be here on Sunday. That's today so we'll see.
One last thing before we go back to daily entries.
I was on the phone to Plusnet and the chap explained that for the first few weeks the fibre connection may drop out and come back as it "finds itself" to initialise. I told him I do that but they just call me a dirty old man.
The blog now continues on July.
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